‘Kuttey;: Lacks Both Bark and Bite; Watch for Tabu’s Performance

By Shubhra Gupta

In 2009 came ‘Kaminey’, in which Vishal Bhardwaj offered us a compendium of crooks in a plot so entertaining that it practically begged an encore. Sadly, 2023’s Bollywood feature in theatres, appropriately called ‘Kuttey’, and directed by Vishal’s son, Aasmaan, is not that film.

By all rights, it should have been. By virtue of who he is, Bhardwaj Jr has had access to not just his father who has been credited with additional screenplay and dialogue, and the peerless Gulzar, but also a jaw-dropping ensemble– Naseeruddin Shah, Tabu, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kumud Mishra leading Arjun Kapoor, Radhika Madan, Shardul Bhardwaj– in a story about corrupt cops and gormless goons chasing packets of powder and stashes of cash. Here’s a quick meet-and-greet with our ‘kuttey’. Konkona is a Naxalite leading a rag-tag army, raising slogans about ‘azaadi’. Ooh, brave. Veteran cop Kumud Mishra and his younger colleague Arjun Kapoor are among those who uphold the law and break it at the same time. Naseer is a hood in a wheelchair. And Radhika and Shardul are young and hopeful. They all want something they don’t have – freedom, illicit money, a place to stretch yourself fully. Where will greed, and lots of guns, lead them to?

When it’s not a madly original mix, it’s always going to be the treatment that lifts it. But as we stand by and wait for this lot to do something, anything that’s going to make ‘Kuttey’ the zinger that it promises to be, we realise that it will be a long, fruitless wait. Almost the entire first half feels like a chaotic-yet-flat set-up where these characters slide in and out. A post-interval portion gives us a glimpse of what the film was aiming for – dark, twisty, fast-paced, with each character trying to outwit the other– but overall it remains choppy, and half-baked. — Indian Express